Tag Archives: improvement

Killer Circuits

Remember that bit about crawling out of the gym on my hands and knees? Well it happened yesterday. I’d been over at IgnitePT on Thursday doing squats, walking lunges, overhead presses, bent-over barbell rows and stiff-legged deadlifts so my legs were feeling about and strong and powerful as two bags of sand. Roll onto Friday and Gavin asks me where I’m aching most as per usual. “My legs mainly,” I say, “my upper body feels alright at the moment.” I say this assuming the reply will be something sensible like “Ok well let’s do some upper body work today,” but instead he says, “Alright then, five minutes on the bike and then join me upstairs.” I know what this means immediately and secretly roll my eyes as soon as his back is turned. There are no weights upstairs you see, only kettlebells, swinging hoops, treadmills and other objects of torture that only barely missed getting delivered to the London Dungeon by mistake on account of the pretty colours in which they are painted. “Look at me,” they scream, “I’m bright blue and red so I must be fun!” but they don’t fool me, oh no. I take one look at the assault course he’s laid out for me and briefly consider turning around, running down the stairs and munching through a box of twelve Krispy Kreme doughnuts while sobbing and mumbling that I knew I wouldn’t be able to cut it. Only for a second though. Instead, I bravely march forth.

For the next 40 minutes I was sprint-pushing a heavy sled back and forth across the length of the gym, jumping on and off a box as high as my thigh, squatting and pressing kettlebells above my head, doing press-ups and deadlifts on a heavier set of kettlebells, lifting a heavy bag above my head and putting it down again and finally, holding the plank position for as long as I could before my whole body finally filled up with lactic acid and I shuddered to the floor in pools of my own sweat. I did this four times and then I ate a kebab in protest.

Despite this, I can already see a difference. Only three weeks in and my waistline is noticeably trimmer. I have more energy in the afternoons and the diet really isn’t that bad at all; I’m even, dare I say, actually quite enjoying it. Cutting out rice, potatoes, bread and pasta means that I never, ever get that stuffed-to-the-brim I’m-going-to-sleep feeling that I often get after a curry loaded with rice or a foot-long Subway sandwich at lunch. I have 4 eggs for breakfast, a tin of tuna for a mid-morning snack, left-overs from last night for lunch, protein shake and some cashew nuts for an afternoon snack and meat and vegetables for dinner. Not only am I saving obscene amounts of money on lunches during the week but I’m getting back into cooking varied and healthy meals – something I used to love but stopped doing when I was living in Japan on account of the weather being so hot you could barely move; I would have rather stuck pins in my eyes than turn on a hot stove and start chopping vegetables. That and having a ramen shop on every street corner meant that I very rarely cooked indoors at all, a habit that unfortunately carried on after I was back in sunny old England.

Today my legs are screaming in pain but incredibly, I’m looking forward to my next session on Tuesday. When people say they’re addicted to the gym they’re lying. No-one actually likes the pain and monotony of pushing heavy weights around (with some exceptions obviously) but you definitely get addicted to the changes in yourself. As soon as you start to see the fruits of your labour you want more, and you stick to the diet with even greater vigour, and put more effort into each workout knowing that the more you put in, the more you stand to gain.



Things are afoot at Ramblin’ HQ. Spurred on by the fact that winter is finally behind us (say it enough times and it might come true) I’ve decided to come out of hibernation and become interesting again. “But Bobby, you were interesting already!” I hear you all cry and to you I hold up my glass and say “Cheers!” and you, with your glass held high, stand ready in that glorious salute awaiting that satisfying clink. But at the last minute you grimace and shrink back into the now darkened alcove in which we stand. “Is that… diet coke?” you ask in disgust. I hang my head in shame and mumble noises of admission.

No need to panic. I have not gone teetotal, but I have hired a personal trainer who says a lot of things I like are bad. Beer is bad for instance. You probably didn’t need me to tell you that but there it is in black and white for you all to swear at. You know what else is bad? Fruit. “Errr, don’t be ridiculous you need 5 a day, everyone knows that.” Yeah well fruit has sugar in it. Sugar is a form of carbohydrate (the worst kind, as it happens) and carbohydrates make you fat. “No but the sugar in fruit is fructose, it’s not the same.” Turns out it is the same as far as making you fat is concerned, and I’m only allowed one piece a day – berries preferably due to their lower sugar content. I’m also not allowed bread, potatoes, rice or pasta, and he’s told me to curb the sugar as well. That last one isn’t really a problem for me as I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. But bread? Noodles? Dear God, what have I done?!

“He” is Gavin Gillibrand, co-founder of Ultimate City Fitness and trainer of 15 years to dozens of tired, unfit city-dwellers like myself. As of last Tuesday (9th April) I now see him 3 times a week for 45 minutes when he gets me to lift, push and pull very heavy things until I’m sweating and cursing and then tells me that I’m not allowed any bread, except maybe, and I quote, “after a really, really hard session where you’re practically crawling out of the door on your hands and knees.” We won’t be doing anything like that just yet he assures me, but it’s only a matter of time. During which I’ll be living on a diet of meat, fish, nuts, seeds, vegetables, eggs and cottage cheese. Time to crack out the Yotam Ottolenghi cook books.

What is this all in aid of then? I’d like to pretend it’s all in the name of fitness and general well-being but there is a large portion of vanity involved here. Losing the belly and packing on some muscle is part of the aim, but I also want to get back into rock climbing after a 3 year hiatus, and that means making sure I have the strength to complement my already good technical level.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress here as well as a few other little projects I have up my sleeve but for now, here’s a bit of Dylan Moran just to keep us all sane: